Dominican Republic 1965

U.S. Invasion of Dominican Republic Stirs World-Wide Anger

Published: May 14, 1965;
Source: World Outlook, Vol. 3, No. 19, p.1-6;
Transcribed: by Amaury Rodriguez, 2016.
Transcriber’s note: This article appeared in World Outlook published by Pierre Frank, Joseph Hansen and Reba Hansen, sympathizers of the United Secretarial of the Fourth International.

The White House decision to pull a blitzkrieg on the Dominican Republic and occupy the small, poverty-stricken, dictator-cursed country with 30,000 marines and paratroopers, touched off the greatest wave of anger against American imperialism since 1958-60. At that time, it will be recalled, Vice-President Nixon was received with stones and curses by angry crowds throughout his “good will” tour of Latin America; while President Eisenhower was forced to cancel a projected trip to Japan because of the explosive point reached in the pent-up wrath of the Japanese people.

Today Johnson would do well not to venture into Latin America, Japan, or almost anywhere outside the United States. He has become the most hated man in the world.

Here are some samples of reactions in various cities:

Santiago de Chile: Hundreds of young people, mostly students, demonstrated in the streets May 5, particularly in the area of the U.S. embassy and on Avenida O'Higgins, the main street of the capital, demanding that the U.S. get out of Santo Domingo.

All the political parties, including the governing Christian-Democrats and the next biggest party, the Radicals, published resolutions condemning the U.S. occupation of’ the Dominican Republic.

The chamber of deputies called a special session which denounced the U.S. aggression” and demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the island.

Lima: Crowds of students demonstrated angrily against the U.S. They stoned the U.S. embassy.

Quito: An estimated 200 students demonstrated here. At Guayaquil an automobile parked in front of the American consulate was blown up. The resulting fire burned other vehicles.

Barranquilla and Cartagena: Demonstrations in these two Colombian cities included the stoning of the facade of a U.S. Colombian center and the burning of an American flag in Barranquilla.

Police succeeded in blocking the burning of a second American flag in Cartagena.

Caracas: In full daylight a group machine-gunned the U.S. embassy. Other assaults were made against American business firms and cultural institutions. In scuffles with the police, 18 were wounded. Demonstrations were reported in many other towns in Venezuela.

Rio de Janeiro: Despite the brutal military-police dictatorship of General Castelo Branco, [1] 500 students staged a demonstration May 7 clearly aimed at the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. They did it by parading before the French embassy to demonstrate approval of de Gaulle’s criticism of the U.S. occupation of the island. Heavy contingents of military police kept a watchful eye on the students.

Montevideo: Demonstrations of increasing violence broke out against the U.S. On May 6 a bomb exploded in the local office of an American cable company.

Buenos Aires: Some thousands of students began demonstrating May 5 in front of the Congress against the landing of U.S. troops in Santo Domingo. They chanted anti-American slogans, broke windows, set fire to tables on terraces in the streets, and-threw Molotov cocktails at the police. The demonstrations continued on following days, growing in volume and spreading to other towns.

Madrid: Franco’s fascist dictatorship could not keep order in face of the anger over the U.S. troop landings in Santo Domingo. Several hundred students demonstrated in front of the Dominican embassy shouting such slogans as “Yankee murderers!”; “Yankees, Get Out.”

The Madrid cops finally succeeded in breaking up the demonstration, making a number of arrests. The controlled Madrid press, which had hailed Johnson’s moves from the very first day, began to change its tone by May 8, striking a critical note over Johnson’s unilateral action.

Vienna: Some 300 students mobilized in the Austrian capital. They demonstrated in front of the American embassy, denouncing U.S. actions in the Dominican Republic.

Berlin: Hundreds of students demonstrated at Potsdam and sent a declaration to the American military mission protesting the U.S. aggression against the Dominican Republic.

While such actions, coupled with innumerable resolutions and declarations by all kinds of organizations, indicated the feelings of the overwhelming mass of humanity about Johnson’s espousal or the “Big Stick” policy or Theodore Roosevelt, American reporters round themselves with no choice but to reluctantly expose the monstrous lies which Johnson used to cover up and justify the invasion.

A typical example is provided by the dispatch sent by Barnard L. Collier May to the New York Herald Tribune. He could find no similarity between the facts in Santo Domingo and the stories issued in Washington. In his opinion this was not the fault of the local information services of the U.S. troops or State Department. “But these officers are finding themselves in an impossible position with correspondents who get around in the U.S.-controlled and rebel zones, and eyewitness events which are vigorously denied or papered over.”

These local officials are told little and the little they are told is “often false or misleading in the extreme.”

In Washington, for instance, on May 3, Johnson said, “Today there are between 1,000 and 1,500 dead people whose bodies are in the streets of Santo Domingo...”

“That statement,” said Collier, “even if it were made during-any time in the whole crisis – even in the worst and most blood-bathed part of it – was patently false. Reporters, including myself, who have been through the worst parts of the rebel districts, have seen no more than six to ten bodies, which is bad enough.

“The very idea of lf, 1000 to 1,500 corpses rotting under this tropical sun is repelling.”

Collier offered the opinion that Johnson used that figure in “good conscience,” but the reporter found this as “disturbing as the unprecedented misinformation system here.” [2]

Some other U.S. lies exposed by Collier: On the night before the U.S. marines were sent in, the U.S. embassy told a group of correspondents “that 12 anti-rebel Dominicans were lined up against a wall and, to cries of ‘Paredon,’ were personally machine-gunned to death by the present rebel leader, Col. Francisco Caamaño.”

The truth: “Not a single reporter has found concrete evidence of the ‘paredon’ episode, and there are now reports that one of the key men said to have been killed in that incident, is alive, although wounded.”

The U.S. embassy also told correspondents at the same time that there were 53 hard-core Communists directing the rebellion, and a list of them was passed out by the embassy.

The truth: “But as of nine days later, no hard proof has been provided by any official sources here, although reporters who know the Dominican situation have personally found that, indeed, several of the listed are Reds and active here.”

The U.S. military told correspondents May 4 that a “small fishing trawler-type boat had sneaked into the harbor and sailed up the Ozama River, to fire with machine guns on forces of the 82nd Airborne, dug in on the eastern edge of the river.”

The truth: A freighter had been in the harbor for several days. “It also turned out that the rebels were trying to start a fire aboard, but each time firemen tried to reach the ship, they came under heavy barrages from the opposite shore.”

On May 5 a military press officer told correspondents that no U.S. patrols were going into rebel territory. That same day a patrol penetrated rebel territory for ten blocks. At first the U.S. military denied the story; then they said the patrol had merely become lost.

The truth: “After the briefing, a major admitted off the record that the U.S. troops were under orders to pursue snipers anywhere in the city – even into the deepest part of the rebel territory – if that would secure the area. This order, he said, was in effect, despite the cease-fire arranged by the Organization of American States.”

Whatever the source of these lies and dozens like them, whether they originated in the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House or the Central Intelligence Agency, they were obviously what is known in these circles as “psychological warfare.” They followed the same pattern as the flood of- lies that poured out of Washington at the time of the invasion of Cuba. The aim of this lying propaganda was quite simple. It constituted the verbal smoke screen required for the military and political operation ordered by Johnson.

In Santo Domingo itself, the counterrevolutionary American forces moved according to the standard’ rules to be found in the Pentagon’s textbooks.

The excuse for the first move was to protect American lives and property, although not a single American had been so much as touched and the aim of the revolutionists was the limited one of restoring a democratic constitutional government that had been overthrown by a coup d'état. This excuse, which was advanced by Johnson himself, was sufficient to cover the first landings.

As additional thousands of troops were airlifted, the thin original excuse was dropped and a different one, again mouthed by Johnson, was offered. This was the hoary one about the “Communist danger."The real reason, of course, was to protect the holdings of two American sugar companies against the potential threat inherent in the revolution and to safeguard the Trujillo dynasty which has performed so heroically for American imperialism these many decades.

The build up of troops was fantastically large – at the last count, some 30,000; and they have brought in the most modern and deadly equipment, including tanks and bombers.

This monstrous military power dug in rapidly, obviously preparing to submit the population of Santo Domingo to a bloodbath such as would be recorded for all time, transmitting the name of Johnson in this way to generations yet unborn.

Against such military power, even the most heroic revolutionists would have little chance in view of the lack of opportunity to get the people properly organized and to secure the means of defense from other countries.

The wielders of the Big Stick proceeded methodically to the next step – to demand that civilians give up the guns that had been handed out in the first days of the revolution. The distribution of arms was supreme evidence of the democratic character of the movement, for it placed final control of the Dominican revolution in the hands of the people.

How well this move succeeds remains to be seen. If the arms are surrendered, then the Dominican people will undergo violent suppression, perhaps lasting for many years, as happened in the case of Greece at the end of World War II. [3]

Along with this move, the U.S. embassy is seeking to divide the leaders of the popular upsurge through apparent concessions (resignations of the worst butchers among the Trujillo forces) and efforts to lure the main figure, Caamaño, into a trap or into capitulation.

These maneuvers appear to be having some success. The men subjected to these blandishments are not really communists or revolutionary socialists. They are exactly what they said they were followers of Juan Bosch, people who have deep illusions about the nature of bourgeois democracy. Given the opportunity, they will of course come to terms with Washington. But then this is no surprise. This was precisely the program of Juan Bosch.

What Bosch and those like him fail to appreciate is that American imperialism no longer has any confidence in their capacity to contain a revolution within the limits of bourgeois democracy. The imperialists are profoundly convinced that once begun, a popular revolution in the world today tends by its own inner logic to become converted into a socialist revolution.

And that is why, nowhere in the world today do they place much confidence in the capacities of bourgeois democratic regimes, particularly those following decades of dictatorship such as that suffered by the Dominican people. If they have any choice at all they will inevitably take the Chiang Kai-sheks, the Syngman Rhees, the Diems, the Batistas, the Castelo Brancos, the Somosas and the Francos. In the Dominican Republic they will concentrate the same way in finding another Trujillo and they will do their utmost to keep him in power if they have to sit him on twice or four times 30,000 U.S. bayonets.

This policy, however, demonstrates not the power of American capitalism but its weakness. The trend toward revolution on a worldwide scale is becoming irrepressible. The people want democracy; they want socialism. Counter-revolutionary troops can contain them only for a brief time. American imperialism is nearing the final question – shall it accept defeat or perish in the hell of nuclear war?


1. Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco (1897-1967) served as the first president of the military regime that emerged out of the 1964 coup d'état that overthrew João Goulart. On the 50th anniversary of the U.S. military occupation of the Dominican Republic, O Globo newspaper reported that the Brazilian military dictatorship sent 1,200 troops to the Dominican Republic as part of the Latin American contingent under the command of the Organization of American States (OAS): “Ao todo, foram 1.250 militares brasileiros alocados na recém-criada Força Interamericana do Brasil (Faibras). Partindo do Rio de Janeiro, eles desembarcariam dois dias depois em Santo Domingo, para liderar as forças intervencionistas da Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA).” O Globo, May 21st , 2015. Available at

2. See Johnson Finds 1,500 Heads, The Militant, Vol. 29, No. 26, 1965, p.1.

3. In the Dominican case, the counter-revolution lasted twelve years from 1966 to 1978. See Police, La Banda Attack Political Prisoners, Intercontinental Press, Vol.10, No.27 p.803; and Torture in la Victoria Prison, Intercontinental Press, Vol. 9, No.26 p.633. See also Cassá, Roberto, Los doce años: contrarrevolución y desarrollismo. Santo Domingo: Alfa y Omega, 1986.